Family Finches (Fringillidae)

Least Concern

West African Seedeater (Crithagra canicapilla)


French: Serin ouest-africain German: Nordbrauengirlitz Spanish: Serín canoso

Poliospiza canicapilla

du Bus de Gisignies

, 1855,

“Senegal”; error = Ghana


Until recently considered conspecific with C. gularis, and clearly very closely related, but differs from all races of latter except benguellensis by its plain vs vaguely streaked back (1); plain (or barely marked) dirty white vs dark-mottled chin (2); weaker white throat (1); browner (less blackish) head markings (ns); slightly paler mid-belly (ns); smaller bill and shorter tail (effect size for tail –3.65, score 2); but longer wing (effect size 1.36, score 1); it differs from C. g. benguellensis by its plain dirty white vs dark-mottled chin (2); weaker white throat (ns[1]); streaked vs almost plain brown head (2); paler brown upper- and underparts (1); slightly smaller bill and notably shorter tail (on tiny sample; allow 2). Further, race elgonensis from South Sudan and W Kenya does not respond to playback of song of nominate C. gularis. Proposed race uamensis (described from Basum, near R Ouham, in S Chad) treated as a synonym of elgonensis. Emendation of name montanorum to montium in HBW was unjustified. Three subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. c. canicapilla (du Bus de Gisignies, 1855) – Guinea, Sierra Leone, S Mali and N Ivory Coast E to S Niger and N Cameroon.
  • C. c. montanorum (Bannerman, 1923) – highlands of E Nigeria and C & W Cameroon.
  • C. c. elgonensis (Ogilvie-Grant, 1912) – extreme S Chad, NW Central African Republic, N DRCongo, South Sudan, N Uganda and extreme W Kenya.
  • Descriptive notes

    12·5–16 cm. Medium-sized to large, comparatively slender-billed, plain finch with white supercilium. Adult male nominate race has forehead to nape streaked buffish white and... read more


    Song in W Africa (nominate) a loud prolonged song of liquid trills, buzzes and rattles at varying... read more


    Found in well-wooded savanna, forest clearings, overgrown millet fields, degraded Guinea savannah... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet virtually unknown, but presumably similar to that of Crithagra; seeds alone were recorded as stomach contents in Nigeria, in... read more


    Very poorly known; in Nigeria, territorial singing males in Jun–Aug and a bird in breeding condition in Jul, and song peaks during wet... read more


    Resident and partial migrant; in non-breeding season large flocks wander at random throughout range... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common to variably locally common, uncommon or scarce; rare in Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Uganda, uncommon... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). West African Seedeater (Crithagra canicapilla). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 27 February 2020).